Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards

Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards

:   Muriel V. Searle
:   Greater London
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4694-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards'

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29. St. Mary's Cottages, part of old pre-suburbanised Hayes, were part of the smal! huddied community centred on the church and the little village school. The Iatter , like most others, doubied out oflesson hours as a community centre, for such unassuming entertainments as displays by the Hayes Gymnastic Club. In the year that this view of St. Mary's Cottages was posted (1908) the Club numbered twelve senior and ten junior boys, plus same girls. Their latest display, according to the perhaps less than criticallocal magazine-cum-newspaper, 'would have been creditable to any club, rural or urban'.

30. 'Twixt Hayes and Keston' is the description of this romanticised sunset scene posted in 1908. A flock of sheep blocks a road that is today rather more heavily used, by motor traffic. A few years previously alocal gazzetteer had called this area of Hayes and Keston countryside 'one of the most charming bits of scenery in the whole of Kent'. On another page it repeated: 'The scenery in this district (is) exquisitely beautiful.' Both observations hold perfectly good today, off the main roads, especially when high banks of wild gorse turn the commons to f1aming yellow in spring; or when great sweeps of heather create a miniature Scotland in August.

31. A mad rush of pioneer motorvehicles- al! three ofthem (one at the crossroads, two in thedistance). But loeal papers were full of things to come by the ear1y 1930s, like the headline 'Too Mueh Noise' detailing imposition of a lOs (SOp) fine to a Keston man for 'driving a motoreycle combination with excessive noise' through Bromley, and another lOs for 'not having proper wings and mudguards' . Threats to historie sites by road widening were already eommon; in 1932 the couneil were 'prepared to agree to the removal of Dr. Hussey's WeU, New Road, Hayes ... to a site on the new line ofthe road when widened'. Motoring srnall-ads were already proliferating; a nice Morris Tourer secondhand for f23, or mayby a Morris Cowley four seater for no. What we might now term a banger, at the eheap end ofthe secondhand column, ranged from a Royal two seater for f7, to a eheap van sold offby a laundry at Lee. Significantly, the 'Horses, Stabling ere' column had by then shrunk to only two items (stables to let at 7s.6d (371/2p) a week); soon it would be dropped compJetely.

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32. Only one man is on the road, and toa unbothered by traffic, if any, to walk ne ar the fence. However, by this time (about 1905) a smal! modicum of public transport did cross the Comrnons. In about 1900 horse buses began running out from the White Hart at Bromley, and on la Keston. In 1914 a motor bus taak over, all the way from Bromley to Downe, a forerunner of the still surviving 146 route. A solid-ryred bone-shaker, it was run by one Fred Capon; na inappropriate name for a man carrying the many locals who supplemented their meagre incornes by keeping poultry .

33. The utter emptiness of pre-mass-motoring Hayes. Except for the surfaced roads, instead of dirt tracks, it could almast pass for the different kind of loneliness that six centuries befare stemmed from more than mere lack of human presence at a particular moment. Then, what few residents did exist, about 140 people in all, were almost exactly halved to a mere sixty-nine , by a terrifying visitation of plague. It seems to have taken two or three generations befare natural sequences of marriage and birth among the survivors restored the village's previous level. Certainly enough grown men lived there in 1450 to supply a contingent for the famous Jack Cade Rebellion - a peculiarly Kentish affair - when two thousand marched to a stilllegendary rally on Blackheath.

34. Junior employees and apprentices of nearby towns, like Bromley and Croydon, were of ten taken out to Hayes or Keston Commons for staff outings or half-day-off treats, especially between about 1910 and 1939. Their transport might weil be by horse-brake; a boneshaking open vehicle with lang sideways benches; instead of two by two. If the overburdened horse broke down or went lame - not infrequently - halfthe fun was having to walk the rest of the way, singing the latest music hall hits, with two strong men lugging the bucket of lemonade. Finding a clearing or open space like this one, they spent the aftemaan running easy sports such as three legged, sack, or egg-and-spoon races, followed by picnic tea with the lemonade. Given motorways to take us farther in a half day they would have travelled for a fortnight's holiday, we also perhaps miss as much as we gain. The simplicity of an afte maan out, so near to home, is foregone in favour of a long and wearisome battle against the traffic jams to reach a very similar picnic site a hundred miles away; simply because it is a hundred miles away.

35. No sign of any car on the lonely road when somebody sent their card early in 1907. But had she walked there on 6th July itwould have been amazingly different, as a largely horse-drawn world was invaded by Kent Automobile Club on its way to a Motor Gymkhana at Holwood Park. Rarely were so many of the newfangled horseless carriages seen together, as when the enthusiasts from all over Kent puttered and sputtered over the Cornmons: 'Cars of all shapes, sizes, and makes from a 6 hp De Dion to a40 hp Mercedes ... many ofthem painted in bright colours and occupied, in addition to the drivers, by ladies fashionably attired in the daintiest of summer cos turn es' , according to a reporter who watched in amazement. The list of vehicles reads like a present-day veteran car lover's dream, including a 35 hp Rochet Schneider; a 15 hp Darracq; some 10-12 hp Argylls; a little 7-8 hp Swift; several more De Dions; and some 30 hp Humbers.

36. Various half hidden waters survive on the Commons, some dried up into mere hollows, others still flowing; notably the deeply hollowed one past which march the dozens of May Queens and their courts onto Hayes Common, on the finalleg of their procession from the church. A few cottages like these also survive, but too of ten wedged between the modern houses that mushroomed all round them. Behind one group still can be seen the open drying-ground of the village washerwomen who lived there, taking in laundry from better-off Iadies, which was dried on this communal airing place. Cottagers like those usually raised a few vegetables to feed their families cheaply, but some took much greater interest in horticulture , as members of Hayes Cottage Gardeners' Association. Their annual shows, started in about 1890, took place on meadows loaned by interested landowners, who also might supply the most expert judges in the district: the head gardeners of the great estates. Reports of the 1908 show, for instance, reveal that the judges were 'Mr. Whittle, gardener to Mr. Goschen of Croydon' , Adams the gardener to Lord A vebury of the huge High Elms estate; and Rowbottom, Sir Henry Lennard's gardener from Wiekham Court.

37. 'On Hayes Common, Kent': one child and two eows remind us of the old principle of common-land, a publie plaee where loeal eottagers eould of right graze their few cattle, sheep or pigs. The ereature known as the family pig would alternatively be penned in their own backyard, fattened up, and then sold for slaughter at a modest profit.

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" ~ MERRIe


38. At one time it was possible to obtain photographic paper ready designed with a Christmas or other special occasion border design, and a standard postcard backing as approved by the Post Office, onto which a private snapshot could be printed ready for posring. An example from about 1912-1915 with a background of a common in winter.

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